Medal honours Nyberg
Since graduating as a registered nurse 50 years ago, Jessie Nyberg has made a name for herself as a nurse, advocate and visionary for social justice and equity for the health and education of aboriginal people.
And now, the Vernon resident has been recognized for her work with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, created in honour of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. The medal serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
“As a dedicated volunteer on many committees and boards, Jessie has given valuable time and energy in her commitment to improve the lives of urban aboriginal people,” said Wendy Antoine, executive director of the First Nations Friendship Centre (FNFC) in Vernon.
Nyberg is a proud aboriginal woman of Secwepemc ancestry from the Canoe Creek Band. She received her Registered Nursing diploma from Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops in 1963, a Nursing Unit Administration diploma from the Canadian Hospital Association, a bachelor of science in health science from Chapman College, Calif., and near completion of a master’s in health administration. Since then she has held various nursing positions, from bedside nurse to senior administration in Alberta, British Columbia, California and Hawaii.
“Her work as an aboriginal nurse, advocate, and visionary for social justice and equity for the health and education of citizens spans more than 50 years,” said Antoine. “Her focus aims at the needs of aboriginal peoples, more specifically urban aboriginal people, and the education of non-aboriginal people to reduce racism and discrimination.
“For example, Ms. Nyberg was able to facilitate, through lobbying and achieving funding, an Aboriginal Early Childhood Development Centre and a Primary Health Care facility within the community.”
In addition, over the last 10 years she has worked with the Provincial Urban Aboriginal Early Childhood Development Strategic Planning Circle and Human Early Learning Partnership focusing on education, health services and support for children zero to six years of age, in particular aboriginal children, said Antoine.
As an adjunct professor, researcher and elder advisor, Nyberg is involved with several aboriginal health research projects at UBC Okanagan, including health care access for urban aboriginal people, the development and implementation of a new innovative Aboriginal Health Cultural Safety curriculum and aboriginal nursing recruitment and retention.
She is also an elder advisor on a variety of local and provincial government, non-profit and educational agencies, hospital foundations, and other research committees and teams, such as Success by Six, Aboriginal Infant Development Programs, Canadian Native Womens’ Association and Vernon Jubilee Hospital Tower of Care funding campaign.
Speaking at a special medal presentation ceremony, FNFC president Laura Hockman said working with Nyberg has been an incredible honour.
“She has taught me so much about community development and leadership. I consider her one of my biggest mentors,” she said.
Former MLA Tom Christensen said the greatest privilege of his time in office was the opportunity to meet and learn from members of the community who have dedicated their lives to making a difference.
“Jessie is prominent among those I learned from. She embodies the strength of our elders, sharing her wisdom and leading by example,” he said. “Jessie is a truly deserving recipient of this medal.
“In introducing the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Governor General David Johnson explained that it is intended to recognize those Canadians who have dedicated themselves to the well-being of family, community and country. The order of those three is interesting, because a focus on the first, family, will automatically achieve the second and third. If we can encourage and support the well-being of families, we will achieve well-being for our community and our country.”